Last weekend, I traveled with my mermaid sisters to Orcas Island for our annual Imbolc/Brigids Day retreat. We are a circle of women who first gathered together during the Goddess classes I taught in the 90's. They went on to complete the priestess training program I created. I have long since stepped down as "leader" and am glad to be one of a circle of equals. I have many other dear friends locally and around the country — but there is something very special about sharing your soul with a group of women that you have known intimately in sacred space for nearly fifteen years.
We spent most of the weekend talking and listening, cooking and eating, walking and laughing. This year we chose topics for our rounds — Health, Finances, Work/Career, Relationships, Spiritual Path, What We Care About the Most. And at the end, we set goals for the coming year. We would go around the circle by topic and each woman had a chance to speak as briefly or as long as she liked about that issue in her life. Then the rest jumped in with feedback or questions. The process becomes a cauldron for self-discovery and reflection, and I believe we all emerge from the Retreat with new energy and new clarity about our lives.
Joanna's right; no matter what else happens to you, there's something very special about doing magic with women whom you've known a long time, with whom you're used to doing magic, with whom you've entered sacred space enough times to flow comfortably into it. A college of priestesses. And, at least for me, it's empowering to know that there are women who will show up when you need help, tell you to try one more time, enjoy your victories, listen to you bitch about your job/lover/life, bathe your body when you die, call your name at Samhein.
My circle has been doing an annual retreat for several years, but, reading about the Mermaid's weekend, I'm wondering if we could think thing about a longer period of time.
Hammered at work and with a bad cold. But there's an absolutely brilliant night sky outside tonight, with a half moon almost directly overhead and several constellations bright as can be.
Yesterday, Landscape Guy and I were talking about the bad economy and he told me that, although his business is really hurting, he's trying to look for good things that are coming from this economy. More time at home with friends, a less frentic pace, more home-cooked (and healthier) meals, less impulse spending. He was the first person I've heard who has had anything positive to say.
What are you doing to deal with these times? My madcap friend R. is teaching every First Aid class the county can schedule for her and putting away the fees in case her state job gets cut. Another friend has cut back on e-bay shopping to pay off credit card debt. Landscape guy and his cute new lover are planning a victory garden in the lover's yard. I'm knitting a lot more; I don't know why, but it makes me feel productive. List your strategies in comments below.
Normal blog-blog-bloggity-blog-blogging will resume shortly.
There are, as Rumi said, hundreds of ways to kneel and kiss the ground. Hundreds of ways for witches to honor and care for Mother Earth. My v creative friend K. sent me this article from the WaPo:
The first brave blossoms of winter jasmine are shivering in freezing temperatures. Daffodil shoots are rising through the rock-hard soil, and pearl-like snowdrops are just apparent through the golden and lifeless foliage of the hakone grass. (I must cut that back.)
Gardeners notice these seasonal progressions even in the supposed dead of winter, and for that reason, a U.S. Geological Survey ecologist named Jake Weltzin wants to tap into the vast reservoir of knowledge that exists in America's back yards.
"I would like to have 40,000 plant observers," said Weltzin, who is based at the University of Arizona at Tucson and is executive director of an organization called the USA National Phenology Network. Phenology is a bloodless scientific term for the miracles that occur every day in the garden: the morning in March a flock of cedar waxwings alights on the holly bushes, the first unfurling of the dogwood flower, the day the hummingbirds return, or the hour the frog lays her eggs. These life cycle events combine to form the tapestry of the natural world, and the more plants we use in the garden and the more wildlife we attract, the richer the experience.
Weltzin and his colleagues have a more prosaic reason to call on gardeners and backyard naturalists to log these phenomena: They are starting a 30-year project to gauge how climate change is affecting the world around us.
. . .
The unwitting father of this endeavor died 147 years ago. Henry David Thoreau, abolitionist, philosopher and naturalist, spent six years recording the flowering dates of 500 plant species of his native Concord, Mass., with the aim of producing a calendar based on a plant's first flowering.
Such was the scale of his task, and his legendary status as a naturalist, that his work inspired others in Concord to follow suit. Alfred Hosmer, a shopkeeper and amateur botanist, recorded the flowering times in various habitats of 700 species and varieties between 1878 and 1902. And from 1963 to 1993, Pennie Logemann, a landscape designer in Concord, methodically logged the bloom patterns of 250 plants. "I especially loved wildflowers," the now-retired Logemann said in an interview, "and more of my work was done with wildflowers than cultivated plants." She added, "I just noticed from year to year that something was going on."
All three sets of records have begun to give scientists a painfully clear picture of how global warming has affected our flora and fauna. Researchers at Harvard and Boston universities went back to Concord between 2003 and 2006 to record flowering data for 500 species (60 percent of Concord's green spaces have remained intact since Thoreau's day). They determined that temperatures have risen nearly 4 degrees in the past 150 years, that flowers now open a week earlier on average and that some plants are far better equipped to deal with this phenomenon than others. More than 60 percent of the plants Thoreau tracked either have gone extinct locally or are on the brink of disappearance.
"Orchids have declined, as have lilies and gentians; these are some of the most charismatic plants," said Abraham Miller-Rushing, one of the researchers and coordinator of the impending wildlife project.
Here's the link to volunteer; it's apparently going to be updated and made a bit more user-friendly in the near future.
This would be a great activity for Spiral Scouts, or just to do with your own kids, coven, lover, self. "Honoring the Earth" means more than just having a stone on your altar or a picture of giant tree on your desk. Being a witch is an activity, as well as a state of being.
IT is morning, Senlin says, and in the morning When the light drips through the shutters like the dew, I arise, I face the sunrise, And do the things my fathers learned to do. Stars in the purple dusk above the rooftops 5 Pale in a saffron mist and seem to die, And I myself on swiftly tilting planet Stand before a glass and tie my tie.
Vine-leaves tap my window, Dew-drops sing to the garden stones, 10 The robin chirps in the chinaberry tree Repeating three clear tones.
It is morning. I stand by the mirror And tie my tie once more. While waves far off in a pale rose twilight 15 Crash on a white sand shore. I stand by a mirror and comb my hair: How small and white my face!— The green earth tilts through a sphere of air And bathes in a flame of space. 20 There are houses hanging above the stars And stars hung under a sea... And a sun far off in a shell of silence Dapples my walls for me....
It is morning, Senlin says, and in the morning 25 Should I not pause in the light to remember God? Upright and firm I stand on a star unstable, He is immense and lonely as a cloud. I will dedicate this moment before my mirror To him alone, for him I will comb my hair. 30 Accept these humble offerings, clouds of silence! I will think of you as I descend the stair.
Vine-leaves tap my window, The snail-track shines on the stones; Dew-drops flash from the chinaberry tree 35 Repeating two clear tones.
It is morning, I awake from a bed of silence, Shining I rise from the starless waters of sleep. The walls are about me still as in the evening, I am the same, and the same name still I keep. 40 The earth revolves with me, yet makes no motion, The stars pale silently in a coral sky. In a whistling void I stand before my mirror, Unconcerned, and tie my tie.
There are horses neighing on far-off hills 45 Tossing their long white manes, And mountains flash in the rose-white dusk, Their shoulders black with rains.... It is morning, I stand by the mirror And surprise my soul once more; 50 The blue air rushes above my ceiling, There are suns beneath my floor....
...It is morning, Senlin says, I ascend from darkness And depart on the winds of space for I know not where; My watch is wound, a key is in my pocket, 55 And the sky is darkened as I descend the stair. There are shadows across the windows, clouds in heaven, And a god among the stars; and I will go Thinking of him as I might think of daybreak And humming a tune I know.... 60
Vine-leaves tap at the window, Dew-drops sing to the garden stones, The robin chirps in the chinaberry tree Repeating three dear tones.
After great pain a formal feeling comes-- The nerves sit ceremonious like tombs; The stiff Heart questions--was it He that bore? And yesterday--or centuries before? The feet, mechanical, go round A wooden way Of ground, or air, or ought, Regardless grown, A quartz contentment, like a stone.
This is the hour of lead Remembered if outlived, As freezing persons recollect the snow-- First chill, then stupor, then the letting go.
A SWEET disorder in the dress Kindles in clothes a wantonness : A lawn about the shoulders thrown Into a fine distraction : An erring lace which here and there Enthrals the crimson stomacher : A cuff neglectful, and thereby Ribbons to flow confusedly : A winning wave (deserving note) In the tempestuous petticoat : A careless shoe-string, in whose tie I see a wild civility : Do more bewitch me than when art Is too precise in every part.
Goe, and catche a falling starre, Get with child a mandrake roote, Tell me, where all past yeares are, Or who cleft the Divels foot, Teach me to heare Mermaides singing, Or to keep off envies stinging, And find What winde Serves to advance an honest minde.
If thou beest borne to strange sights, Things invisible to see, Ride ten thousand daies and nights, Till age snow white haires on thee, Thou, when thou retorn'st, wilt tell me All strange wonders that befell thee, And sweare No where Loves a woman true, and faire.
If thou findst one, let mee know, Such a Pilgrimage were sweet; Yet doe not, I would not goe, Though at next doore wee might meet, Though shee were true, when you met her, And last, till you write your letter, Yet shee Will bee False, ere I come, to two, or three.
COME, my celia, let us prove While we may, the sports of love; Time will not be ours forever; He at length our good will sever. Spend not then his gifts in vain. Suns that set may rise again; But if once we lose this light, 'Tis with us perpetual night. Why should we defer our joys? Fame and rumor are but toys. Cannot we delude the eyes Of a few poor household spies, Or his easier ears beguile, So removed by our wile? 'Tis no sin love's fruit to steal; But the sweet theft to reveal. To be taken, to be seen, These have crimes accounted been.
Whoso list to hunt, I know where is an hind, But as for me, hélas, I may no more. The vain travail hath wearied me so sore, I am of them that farthest cometh behind. Yet may I by no means my wearied mind Draw from the deer, but as she fleeth afore Fainting I follow. I leave off therefore, Sithens in a net I seek to hold the wind. Who list her hunt, I put him out of doubt, As well as I may spend his time in vain. And graven with diamonds in letters plain There is written, her fair neck round about: Noli me tangere, for Caesar's I am, And wild for to hold, though I seem tame.
This weekend, G/Son and I went to a new nature center and marveled at snakes climbing gracefully down trees and a v large, v lovely owl, recuperating in a wonderful space. And, there I am, in the middle of the small wood in McMansionsville, surrounded by parents and G/Parents trying to find something to do w their kids in deep winter, suddenly accompanied by animals sacred to the Goddesss. Wherever you go, there she is, and it's all real, it's all metaphor, there's always more. The owl's daughter, Beth, has up a lovely post about Imbolc, tomorrow, when we worship the Goddess Brigid, patroness of smithwork, birth, and poetry.
For millennia at Her temple at Kildare (or Cill Dara, which means Church of the Oak), Her priestesses, and later, the nuns of Her order, tended an eternal flame in Her honor. Although it was extinguished during the Burning Times (the Inquisition), in 1993, Sister Mary Minehan boldly re-lit St. Brigid's flame in Kildare. It was lit again in 1997, in the Kildaire town square by Ragny Skaisten, a member of the Norwegian Brigidine Sisters, at the opening of Her feast day, Feile Bhride.
Since then, despite reluctance from the Pope, each year on Brigid’s Feast Day, the Brigidine Sisters in Kildare have lit the flame in the town square for the day.
Tomorrow, in the magical space between one snow storm and another, my circle of women will gather and do magic in Brigid's honor. And, tomorrow, all over Paganii Blogistan, Brigid will be honored w poetry. What a lovely way to welcome Spring. As my v creative circle-sister K said to me, as we made last minute adjustments to our ritual, "Whatever else, we'll turn the wheel." A witch's job is to turn the wheel, and round and round the wheel does turn.
May your life be touched by transformation, growing strength of will, poetry, fire.
Ladies! Listen up! Detecting breast cancer early is the key to surviving it! Breast Self Exams (BSEs) can help you to detect breast cancer in its earlier stages. So, on the first of every month, give yourself a breast self-exam. It's easy to do. Here's how. If you prefer to do your BSE at a particular time in your cycle, calendar it now. But, don't let the perfect be the enemy of the good.
And, once a year, get yourself a mammogram. Mammograms cost between $150 and $300. If you have to take a temp job one weekend a year, if you have to sell something on e-Bay, if you have to go cash in all the change in various jars all over the house, if you have to work the holiday season wrapping gifts at Macy's, for the love of the Goddess, please go get a mammogram once a year.
Or: The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention pays all or some of the cost of breast cancer screening services through its National Breast and Cervical Cancer Early Detection Program. This program provides mammograms and breast exams by a health professional to low-income, underinsured, and underserved women in all 50 states, six U.S. territories, the District of Columbia, and 14 American Indian/Alaska Native organizations. For more information, contact your state health department or call the Cancer Information Service at 1-800-4-CANCER.
Send me an email after you get your mammogram and I will do an annual free tarot reading for you. Just, please, examine your own breasts once a month and get your sweet, round ass to a mammogram once a year.
I'm a woman, a Witch, a mother, a grandmother, an eco-feminist, a gardener, a reader, a writer, and a priestess of the Great Mother Earth. Hecate appears in the
Homeric Ode to Demeter, which tells of Hades who caught Persophone
"up reluctant on his golden car and bare her away lamenting. . . . But no one, either of the deathless gods or of mortal men, heard her voice, nor yet the olive-trees bearing rich fruit: only tenderhearted Hecate, bright-coiffed, the daughter of Persaeus, heard the girl from her cave . . . ."